Pop Culture Names: Cora, Aurora and Devora

The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

It happens all the time.

You’re expecting your first – or second, or third – and the perfect name eludes you.  There are lots of possibilities and maybes, but none of them are The Name.

And then along comes a movie, a television show, a celebrity, a song, and that’s it.  That’s the name.

The numbers tell us that pop culture is a major influence in baby naming.  And yet we resist the idea.  A name from a Jane Austen novel?  Classic, sophisticated.  From a soap opera or a Disney Channel series?  Sometimes we’re a little dismissive of those choices.

But here’s the thing about names: we can’t consider them until we are aware that they exist.

This week’s names all come from movies and television, books and blogs.  You may have heard them before, but seeing them on the screen could make the names feel fresh, interesting, and just right for a daughter.

Holliday – A new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations arrived in the US last week.  (It’s been out in the UK for a year.)  You might already know English actress Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia on The Borgias, but now she’s playing the elusive Estella.  We love noun names, and Holliday fits with Top 100 favorites like Trinity and Serenity.

Dove – From the elaborate Holliday to the simple Dove.  She’s a symbol of peace, often associated with the winter season.  She’s also worn by another young actress, this time Dove Cameron, of Disney Channel original series Liv and MaddieDove plays identical twin sisters.  Dove takes the best of virtue names like Hope and Grace, and merges them with nature names like Lark and Wren.

PhilomenaJudi Dench’s latest movie is the tale of a mother looking for the son she was forced to give up for adoption many years earlier.  Judi plays Philomena.  It’s a name worn by a mythological princess and an early saint.  File her with clunky-but-cool choices like Wilhelmina and Theodora.

Sophia Devora – Congratulations to executive editor Michael Kress and wife Stephanie on their new arrival, daughter Sophia DevoraLisa Milbrand explains that both choices have ties to family history.  An unexpected middle with a popular first name is a great combination, and Devora – an older version of Deborah – feels quite stylish.

CoraDevora reminds me of the gently vintage CoraDownton Abbey is mid-fourth season in the UK, but we’re still waiting in the US.  The elegant, but down-to-earth Countess of Grantham has boosted her character’s given name more than 120 spots in the rankings since the show debuted.  She feels as classic as Caroline, as simple as Ava.  Could Cora be headed for a return to the US Top 100?

Aurora – One more -ora name for your consideration.  Aurora has been on the rise since the 1990s.  Now Disney is due to release Maleficent, a prequel to Sleeping Beauty, next spring.  Angelina Jolie plays the evil queen.  Maleficent is a non-starter of a name, but Princess Aurora – played by Elle Fanning – could get a boost.

Briar – If you remember the fairytale, Princess Aurora spends some time in hiding, answering to the name Briar Rose.  Besides the 2014 flick, there’s also a new doll called Briar, part of the Ever After High line, a spin-off from Monster High.  One-part Briana and one-part Harper, it is hard to believe that Briar has never charted in the US Top 1000.  She fits right in with other gender neutral nature names like Rowan.

Buttercup – Yes, it’s more Disney influence.  They’ve just announced that a Broadway musical adaptation of The Princess Bride is in the works.  Buttercup feels too fanciful to wear as a given name, but the story is beloved.  Maybe in the middle spot?  Maybe the name more likely to benefit from a successful stage show is the handsome Westley.

Edie – The incomparable Liz Stanley of Say Yes to Hoboken has welcomed a daughter, Elizabeth Jean, called Edie.  She’s a little sister for HenryLiz is the fourth Elizabeth, after her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  That makes Miss Edie the fifth generation to share the family moniker.  To borrow Liz’s tagline, three cheers for stylish and meaningful baby names!

Have you heard any great names on television or in movies and blogs this week?  What are your all-time favorite character names?

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26 Responses to “Pop Culture Names: Cora, Aurora and Devora”

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misskitkat Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 12:51 am

I had a baby girl a few weeks ago and called her Briar. Very few people had even heard of it. I’ve needed to explain to almost everyone the origins of her name. On the same note everyone has now fallen in love with it. It’s a gorgeous name and Once I found it, that was it. Plus it suits her perfectly 🙂

Erinm Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 3:37 am

Misskitkat, Briar is a gorgeous name and ever since I was a little girl listening to Sleeping beauty on storybook tape I have loved it! Great choice.

Erinm Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 3:39 am

Cora is another good one, thanks to Last of the Mohicans. And of course Alice but we talk enough about that one 🙂

SoDallas3 Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 3:45 am

I adore Aurora, that’s my favourite image of her from the Disney film as well!

Abby Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 6:47 am

@misskitkat – Welcome to Briar! What a lovely name.

larkub101 Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 7:41 am

A great post for sure!

Holliday is my favorite (though I keep original spelling Holiday). Although the double L might be neat…
Also love Briar!
And Elizabeth…I will never stop loving Elizabeth no matter how popular it is!

skizzo Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 9:29 am

I like Briar better for a boy, its actually charting higher for boys. It just sounds really close to Brian for me to picture it on a girl.
Aurora on the other hand is a lovely name, and a more fitting choice for a little girl if you want to pay tribute to Sleeping Beauty.
I think Cora has been rising also because of the TV show Once Upon A Time, which has a villainess named Cora.
Buttercup reminds me of the cartoon character from The Powerpuff Girls. Totally unusable imo.

BeeCee Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 9:40 am

Woe! I was one of the unfortunate few who were actually named after soap opera characters; specifically, Meg Ryan’s character on As The World Turns, Betsy Stewart. Although the name itself is sweet, and it does suit me, the unfortunate effect is that there are so few of us every time I hear it my head snaps in that direction – lateral whiplash! And also the fact that I have to admit that my mother gave my older siblings nice, personally meaningful names, and I got a little slice of Daytime TV for my debut.

I suppose it could be worse – I’ve heard some pretty questionable name choices on soap operas… I don’t think I’ll list any for fear of offending those other unfortunately named Soapy children.

P.S.: I love everything about Briar (and the Rose variant)! I always thought Disney did that tail a fair bit of injustice in renaming her Aurora; what else might they have done? Bianca for Snow White? Etc.? Is nothing sacred? Tsk-tsk.

indiefendi Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 10:09 am

I’ve loved Briar ever since I heard on iCarly. It was the name of a prep school she was going attend and I think it’s aptly named because it seems very uppercrust-y.

mermuse Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 10:22 am

I was actually named from television, so I understand the ‘shame’ that goes with having a TV-inspired name. That being said, it was the #6 name when I was born, and I am meeting other Stephanies everywhere I go these days, so thankfully it’s just that my parents heard the name on television, not that my name is exclusively tied to an 80’s TV character!

charmingwitch Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 10:24 am

I’ve really been crushing on Cora lately, it came to my attention binge watching Once Upon a Time a few weeks ago. Rumple says it’s not a very pretty name, it sounds like something breaking — kinda why I dig it ;). I have no idea where I heard Edie but it’s my favorite name I’ll never get to use (my fiance thinks people will mistake it for Eddie ::rolls eyes::)

I really like the idea of Briar on little girls! It’s an adventuresome little name.

misskitkat Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

@erinm and @Abby. Thanks. I’m totally in love with her and the name. I actually named her Briar Elizabeth, Elizabeth being a family name through all generations of my family.
So @larkub 101 I couldn’t agree with you more. Elizabeth is just one of those classic, beautiful names that despite its popularity will always be delicious.
@skizzo. While I have had a couple of people think it was a boys name I don’t think I would want to have a boy and have their name having such a feminine meaning/sounding name.

tori101 Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I absolutely love Aurora she’s actually a favourite of mine. So elegant and beautiful. I also adore the ‘dawn’ meaning it’s just so natural and conjures up great images. Aurora is perfect.

I also love…
Holliday – but in all honesty I prefer the Holiday spelling it just looks classier and visually more attractive.

: )

Abby Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 4:11 pm

@skizzo – Yes, The Powerpuff Girls! And no, it doesn’t really make it any more wearable. Eleanor Buttercup, maybe? Celeste Buttercup? Genevieve Buttercup? It sort of screams Princess Bride in a way Westley does not …

@tori101 – I think I prefer Holiday to Holliday, too. If only because Holiday is how most people would intuitively spell it. That seems to me to be the strength of noun names. Sailor, Lyric, Journey, Holiday – I might be surprised to hear it as a name, but I know how to spell it … unless I don’t. Which I why I’m not fond of Saylor, Lyriq, Journie, Holidae.

@mermuse – You’re not alone! I think more of us are named with some help from television and movies than we’d ever realize. I have a friend named Tabitha who insists her parents had never even heard of Bewitched. But Tabitha just wasn’t used in the US until the show introduced the character, so …

@BeeCee – Betsy is *such* a great choice. I am very jealous of your soapy name! And yes, what would Disney have named Snow White? I’ve never heard a more conventional name associated with her …

seraphine Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Aurora is one of my top names, with the boyish nickname Rory. I hope it doesn’t get too popular– I might want to use it one day! Briar Rose is a bit too much for me, though the name is very beautiful.

I have loved the name Dove for a long time, but I fear that it may be too uncommon, or that people will only think of actress Dove Cameron.

I prefer Holiday rather than Holliday, but both are very beautiful. I think the nickname Holi or Holly would be really cute for a little girl.

Overall, this was a great post with wonderful names! Whoever created this did a job well done!

AprilRobin Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Aurora is a cute name but I knew a pair of twins growing up named Aurora and Eudora so I could never use it remembering them. I like Dove but I don’t want her to be teased for it but I’m not sure it could work for a middle name. All in all it was a great post with wonderful unique names.

niteowl13 Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Noooo! I don’t want Briar to become mainstream! I want to use it one day. I love sweet, one syllable names and it is different. Briar Rose is a well known character, so it’s not too different.
I love Cora, but it is a chain of brunch restaurants in Canada. However, I do love breakfast… 🙂
Devora is one that I have liked for ages too. I think Dev is a cute nick name for a girl, so I found Devora and added it to my list! It’s a lovely name.
Speaking of pop-culture references – I actually heard the name Miley at a Christmas Parade on the weekend…

karateleshi80 Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Briar is the best pick of this list. I like how it sounds more than reading it though. It reminds me of the names Bridie and Arden but more sophisticated. Briar is softer and when spoken aloud more attractive than Aurora. I think some little kids would have trouble pronouncing Aurora.

Abby Says:

November 18th, 2013 at 9:30 pm

@Seraphine – Thank you!

@niteowl13 – I didn’t know that! We’re thinking about a Toronto trip this summer – will have to be on the lookout for Cora! I always associate Harvey with the Canadian burger chain …

And wow, a Miley in real life!

HannieKitt Says:

November 19th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

@ BeeCee – Disney weren’t actually the first to use the name Aurora for her, Tchaikovsky was though her daughter was named L’Aurore in even earlier versions. The earliest name given to her appears to be Talia, with Briar Rose coming later.

Ilovenames101 Says:

November 20th, 2013 at 10:10 am

Our son’s name is Bryar…actually the only Briar’s/Bryar’s we have met have been boys…(we know of 3 others in our area) hard to imagine it on a girl because it sounds so harsh and means thorny bush. Aurora is lovely though. The first time I ever heard of the name Bryar was on Next of Kin…Liam Neeson played a character named Briar Gates.

Cora has always been a favorite!

BeeCee Says:

November 20th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

@ HannieKitt – Thanks for the info. I had an old storybook when I was little featuring the tale of Briar Rose; I suppose I went and did the silly thing and assumed it was the original! Still, very much in the Briar camp, though. I just can’t get behind Aurora, it sounds like an awfully heavy name for a little one – I think I’d probably choose Eos if I wanted a ‘dawn’ baby.

iwillpraise Says:

November 21st, 2013 at 1:33 pm

LOVE: Philomena, Cora and Edie!!!

Unfortunately, “You’re a MEANY, MENA!” would probably be bestowed on a little Philomena which is quite hard at any age…. I love it tho! Unfortunately, it would be atrocious paired with my already-clunky married surname; probably coulda pulled it off with my one-syllable maiden tho.

Cora. Mmmm. Talk about delicious! She’s prim and proper and very elegantly associated with Downton Abbey, a show which makes me and hubby happy. If I were to choose a name from the show, it would most definately be Cora.

Edie is a newer crush of mine. I suggested it for my week-old niece when we were discussing names, but didn’t appeal to my SIL. In the midst of it all, my husband decided he LOVES the combo Nadia Eden for a future daughter. Nadia really doesn’t need a nickname, but if it is paired with Eden, I may wish to dub her “Edie”…. yes, I know, it’s kind of an unusual way to get Edie, but wouldn’t that be the cutest old fashioned twist on this very exotic name? I absolutely ADORE it, but am kinda leary about telling hubby. I’m so so excited about it, but the nn just may turn him off using the combo… he’s so in love with Nadia. Ah, I don’t know! Thoughts, anyone?

P.S. Buttercup is my brother-in-law’s wife’s dog… I don’t think I’d go there for a child!

AmandaJean21 Says:

January 26th, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I was forever obsessed with the name Lana after watching Smallville a few times. The obsession has since worn off since I have two boys (and we watch Archer so Lannnnnaaaa will forever be in my mind when I hear the name), but deep down I’ll always love it.

LunaCross Says:

April 21st, 2014 at 10:30 pm

actually, Buttercup was a Powerpuff Girl in CN’s Powerpuff Girls.

mysoutherncomfortzone Says:

June 24th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I love the name Dove so much. I like the combo Dove Amelia.

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